GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC review – Part 3: Ubuntu 22.04 Linux

After going through an unboxing and teardown for the GEEKOM Mini Air12, we tested the Intel Processor N100 mini PC with Windows 11 Pro, and we’ve now had time to check Ubuntu 22.04 on the device and will report our experience with Linux in the third part of the review.

We tested the hardware features, networking and storage performance, YouTube video streaming, and ran some benchmarks in Ubuntu 22.04, before checking out the cooling performance, fan noise, and power consumption of the GEEKOM Mini Air12 in Linux.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC Review Ubuntu 22.04 Linux

We installed Ubuntu 22.04 alongside Windows 11, after having shrunk the Windows 11 partition by about half before inserting a USB drive with Ubuntu 22.04.3 ISO, and the installation went smoothly with no drivers missing.

Disk Management Partition

Ubuntu 22.04 system information

Mini Air12 Ubuntu

The About window in the settings confirms we have a mini PC with a quad-core Intel Processor N100 SoC, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD running Ubuntu 22.04.3 LTS 64-bit.

We can get a few more details from the command line:


The rootfs partition is only 233GB in size because the rest of the drive is used for Windows 11.


Inxi shows the Intel Processor N100 is clocked at up to 3400 MHz, a RealTek RTL8852BE WiFI 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless module, and 512GB (actually 476.94GB) Lexar NM620 SSD. The CPU temperature looks really low at 27.8°C and that sensor appears to output bogus data. Nevertheless, as we’ll see below the cooling system is working as it should and the Mini Air12 mini PC won’t throttle.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 benchmarks in Ubuntu 22.04

We’ll start benchmarking the Mini Air12 in Ubuntu with Thomas Kaiser’s sbc-bench script:


No CPU throttling was detected, and the temperature never exceeded 75°C so there’s plenty of legroom with regards to CPU temperature. The 7-zip average score was 13,940 points or fairly higher than the the 12,890 points achieved by the UP 7000 fanless SBC based on the same Intel N100 CPU (Unless PL1 and PL2 are both set to 25W in which case the UP 7000 score goes up to around 13,500). The test was done at an ambient temperature of around 28°C.

Let’s also check the power limits as requested by sbc-bench.sh script:


PL1 is set to 15W and PL2 to 25W, while the (mostly useless) TDP number is 6W.

Let’s now evaluate the CPU performance with Geekbench 6.2.2.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 Geekbench 6.2.2 Linux

The single-core score is 1,213 points, and the multi-core score is 3,272 points. You’ll find the full results on the GeekBench website.

We started testing GPU performance in Ubuntu 22.04 with Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 where the GEEKOM Mini Air12 got an average of 12.0 fps and a 303 points score at a resolution of 1920×1080.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 Linux

Time to play a few 4K and 8K YouTube videos in Chrome…

GEEKOM Mini Air12 YouTube 4K 30fps

No issue with a 4Kp30 video playing for 8 minutes with no frames dropped at all.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 YouTube 4K 60fps

The Mini Air12 fared well with a 4K 60 fps YouTube video as well with 25 frames dropped out of 22,549.

Intel Processor N100 YouTube 8K 30 fps

8Kp30 was smooth as well and two frames dropped out of 11.627 after watching the video for a little over 6 minutes.

Intel Processor N100 YouTube 8K 60 fps

Finally, an 8K video played smoothly at 60 fps with only 42 dropped frames out of 26,424 while watching the video for a little over 7 minutes.

We also ran Speedometer 2.0 in Firefox to benchmark web browsing on the Intel N100 mini PC.

Speedometer Chrome GEEKOM Mini Air12

The average score was 149 runs per minute, but looking at the details for the 10 iterations the score ranged between 137 and 153.

Speedometer Detailed GEEKOM Mini Air12

GEEKOM Mini Air12 benchmarks compared to other mini PCs (and one SBC)

Let’s now compare the Ubuntu 22.04 benchmarks results for the GEEKOM Mini Air12 against two other Alder Lake-N platforms we’ve tested namely the Weibu N10 (Core i3-N305) mini PC and the UP 7000 fanless SBC (Intel Processor N100), and three more powerful mini PC from GEEKOM for reference: GEEKOM A5 (AMD Ryzen 7 5800H), GEEKOM Mini IT11 (Core i7-11390H Tiger Lake) and  GEEKOM AS 6 (AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX). All systems were tested at an ambient temperature of around 28-30°C.

Let’s go through the basic specifications of the six systems under test first before checking out the benchmark results.

GEEKOM Mini Air12Weibu N10 UP 7000 SBCGEEKOM A5GEEKOM Mini IT11GEEKOM AS 6
SoCIntel Processor N100Intel Core i3-N305 Intel Processor N100 AMD Ryzen 7 5800HIntel Core i7-11390HAMD Ryzen 9 6900HX
CPU4-core processor up to 3.4 GHz8-core processor up to 3.80 GHz4-core processor up to 3.4 GHz 8-core/16-thread processor up to 4.4 GHz4-core/8-thread processor up to 5.0 GHz8-core/16-thread processor up to 4.9 GHz
GPU24 EU Intel UHD Graphics32EU Intel HD Graphics24EU Intel HD Graphics8-core AMD Radeon Graphics96 EU Intel Iris Xe GraphicsAMD Radeon Graphics 680M
TDP6W15W6W45W28-35W45W
Memory16GB DDR5 @ 4800 MHz8GB DDR4-32008GB LPDDR5 32GB DDR4-320032GB DDR432GB DDR5-4800
Storage512GB M.2 NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD64GB eMMC flash512GB NVMe SSD1TB NVMe SSD1TB NVMe SSD
Default OSWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProN/AWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 Pro

And now the benchmark results:

GEEKOM Mini Air12Weibu N10UP 7000 SBC GEEKOM A5GEEKOM Mini IT11GEEKOM AS 6
sbc-bench.sh
- memcpy10,459.3 MB/s9,949.4 MB/s8,277.6 MB/s18,717.0 MB/s19,734 MB/s 19,131.7 MB/s
- memset10,665.4 MB/s8,991.6 MB/s13,678.5 MB/s43,837.0 MB/s45,636.7 MB/s 16,781.4 MB/s
- 7-zip (average)1394017,61512,89053,61025,16754,592
- 7-zip (top result)1397620,00213,17854,85025,40156,251
- OpenSSL AES-256 16K1,233,283.75k1,377,211.73k1,231,454.21k1,202,869.59k1,707,917.31k 1,249,203.54k
Geekbench 6 Single1,213
1,177 (Geekbench 5)N/A2,002 1,9771,992
Geekbench 6 Multi3,2724,856 (Geekbench 5)N/A9,3475,7299,535
Unigine Heaven score3034512588901,0791,553
Speedometer (Firefox)149N/AN/A218N/A202

The GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC performs slightly better than the fanless UP 7000 SBC with the same processor as might have been expected. The Core i3-N305 octa-core Alder Lake-N mini PC is faster, but only for multi-core workloads (43% faster with 7-zip max score) and graphics (50% faster with Unigine), and single core performance is actually a bit better for the Mini Air12 (provided Geekbench 5 and 6 score can be compared). We’ve added the more powerful mini PC to show how much more performance can be had when spending two to three times more…

Storage and USB performance test

Let’s now test the performance of the 512GB M.2 SSD  that comes with the mini PC using iozone3:


3.2GB/’s sequential read speed and 2.9 GB/s read speed are excellent for this type of entry-level hardware. For reference, the R/W speeds were respectively 3.4GB/s and 2.9GB/s in Windows 11 using CrystalDiskMark.

In order to double-check the actual speed of the USB ports, we connected the ORICO M234C3-U4 USB 3.0 NVMe SSD enclosure to each of them unless otherwise noted. lsusb and iozone3 command line utilities were then used to confirm the speed and standard used.

For example for the USB Type-A port at the front (10 Gbps):


The results of all 5 ports are summarized as follows (left to right)

  • Front panel
    • USB-C
      • ORICO enclosure – 480 Mbps – 39 MB/s read speed
      • MINIX USB-C dock – 5Gbps – 380MB/s read speed
    • USB-A – 10 Gbps – 858 MB/s read speed
  • Rear panel
    • USB-C – 10 Gbps – 861 MB/s read speed
    • USB-A #1 (top) – 10 Gbps – 854 MB/s read speed
    • USB-A #2 (bottom) – 10 Gbps – 845 MB/s read speed

Interestingly, while the ORICO enclosure would not work at all in Windows with the front USB-C port, it works in Linux, but only as a USB 2.0 device (480 Mbps). So we tested the port again with the MINIX NEO Storage Plus USB-C dock fitted with a 480GB (SATA) SSD showing 5 Gbps supported (The MINIX dock is a 5Gbps USB device). That USB-C port is supposed to support 10 Gbps speed, but none of our peripherals could work at that speed in Windows and Linux.

Network performance (Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi 6)

Network throughput was measured with iperf3. We started testing the gigabit Ethernet port using AAEON UP Xtreme i11 Edge mini PC at the other end.

  • Upload

  • Download


No issues here, so let’s try full-duplex:


All good. Time to test WiFi 6 through the Xiaomi Mi AX6000 router and still UP Xtreme i11 computer at the other end.

  • Upload

  • Download


Over 800 Mbps in either direction. That’s an awesome performance for what’s supposed to be an entry-level mini PC. As usual, we got much better results in Linux than in Windows where the DL and UL speeds were respectively 463 Mbps and 220 Mbps.

Thermal performance

We ran a stress test while checking the CPU temperature to see how well the Mini Air12 cools the Intel Processor N100 CPU.

GEEKOM Mini Air12 CPU temperature

No problem here with the maximum temperature never exceeding 77°C in a room at 28°C.

Fan noise

The mini PC has a very quiet fan under most workloads, and it only becomes (barely) audible under heavy loads. We measured the fan noise with a power level meter placed at around 5 centimeters from the top of the device

  • Idle – Around 39-40 dBA
  • Stress test – 40 to 48.5 dBA

The ambient noise in the room was measured at 37 – 38 dBA. Note that as a general matter, fans may become noisier after a few years of use, but that’s not something we can easily test in a review…

GEEKOM Mini Air12 power consumption

The power consumption was measured for a wall power meter

  • Power off –  0.8 Watt
  • Booting –  12 to 25 Watts
  • Idle –  8 to 10 Watts
  • Video playback – 12 to 20 Watts(Youtube 8Kp60 in Firefox)
  • Stress test  – 21 to 24 Watts
  • SBC-Bench.sh script – 10 to 25 Watts

Note: The mini PC was connected to WiFi 6, two USB RF dongles for a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, and a VGA monitor (through an HDMI to VGA adapter) during measurements.

Conclusion

GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC works well with Ubuntu 22.04 Linux distribution. Web browsing is responsive, 4K and 8K YouTube video playback is smooth up to 60 fps, the NVMe SSD is very fast for an entry-level mini PC, and gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6 networking performance is great, although we would have wished for a 2.5GbE port in the mini PC. The fan is very quiet and the CPU temperature under load is relatively low at 77°C, so we’d expect the Mini Air12 to work well in most conditions, even in hotter climates. The only real problem we had was the USB-C port on the front panel that wouldn’t work properly with some of our peripherals. Other USB ports are fine and work at 10 Gbps.

We’d like to thank GEEKOM for sending the Mini Air12 mini PC for review. The model reviewed here with an Intel Processor N100 CPU, 16GB DDR5, and a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD can be purchased for $229 on the company’s online store with the coupon code cnxsoftware20. It’s also available on Amazon with a $20 discount with the coupon code CNXAIR128OFF.

CNXSoft: This review is a translation – with some additional insights – of the original article on CNX Software Thailand by Suthinee Kerdkaew.

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7 Comments
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urostor
urostor
1 month ago

Nice review. It might have been worth trying it out also with kernel 6.5, which can be installed on Ubuntu Jammy without a problem (sudo apt install linux-generic-hwe-22.04-edge), as it’s a fairly new CPU.

hrr
hrr
1 month ago

Why would you want to install an obsolete kernel? The 6.5-kernel is already EOL since early december.
I’m currently using 6.6 for a debian bookworm laptop (which is available in sid, although the firmware updates are lagging). The alternative 6.1 works out of the box.

urostor
urostor
1 month ago

Because this is the latest kernel available in official Ubuntu repositories for 22.04.

Sergio
Sergio
1 month ago

My experience has been totally oposite: when using Ubuntu 22.04.3, the Geekom Mini Air12 freezes or reboots itself constantly. It could happen at any moment, no matter what I am doing…

Sergio
Sergio
1 month ago

Nothing out of the ordinary, I think:

  • An HDMI monitor (1920×1080). I’ve tried booth via the HDMI port and the mini DP port (using an miniDP-HDMI adapter).
  • Logitech K400+ wireless keyboard/mouse combo
  • And at times, an USB pendrive

Thanks!!

Sergio
Sergio
14 days ago

More on my issues with the Mini Air12: It freezes even when using a Windows USB installer or the Windows based restore image available from Geekom’s support website (“Windows System Apply Tool”), so it’s not Linux/Ubuntu related! It freezes when the system load is high, specially -but not only- when doing something that is graphics intensive (Xonotic test from Phoronix Test Suit, i.e.). I’ve been able to reproduce the issues with a second unit that we purchase at the same time Now I think it’s a hardware issue, maybe related to power or thermal management. I will contact Geekom to… Read more »

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